Belgium Belgium
placeKempen, Belgium

De Drie Wilgen

  • partner for Oxfam’s first 100% Belgian fair-trade product: apple juice
  • family company that works with Belgian fruit growers under the fairest conditions
  • Oxfam Fair Trade has been buying fresh apple juice from De Drie Wilgen since 2018
Belgium Belgium

Belgian fair-trade apple juice, 100% natural

The story of fruit juice producer De Drie Wilgen begins like a fairy tale. There was once a young boy of around ten years of age who was passionate about the apples from his grandfather’s orchard. His granddad let him sell the fruit once it was ripe for picking. And so Jan Hellemans’ inner entrepreneur was awoken. Not so very long after, he began to sell apple juice, which he made himself.

De Drie Wilgen has been producing and distributing fruit juices since the 1980s. Today you can find them in dozens of organic and health-food stores, cafés and restaurants. All from fruit grown with the greatest respect for nature and its producers. The company also produces juice for other brands, such as Oxfam Fair Trade.

Fair trade from Belgium

When Oxfam sought to bring a Belgian-made, fair-trade apple juice to market, De Drie Wilgen stood out as an obvious partner.

Jan Hellemans of De Drie Wilgen applies the principles of fair trade here in our own country: “Most apple growers have to make do with the price set by the auction clock. There’s the crucial difference: our fruit comes from farmers who bring their apples to market as part of a cooperative. We agree with them in advance how many apples we will buy and at what price. The amount of apples on the market and the quality still play a role in the pricing, but we ensure that the minimum price is fair.”

Most apple growers in Belgium have to make do with the price set by the auction clock. Our growers already know months before the harvest how many apples we will buy from them and at what price.

Jan Hellemans, De Drie Wilgen

Organic apple juice bears fruit

Oxfam would like nothing more than to stock Belgian apple juice that’s both fair-trade and organic. But there are some obstacles standing in our way: there are currently not enough certified-organic apple trees growing on Belgian soil to meet the demand for organic apples.

That’s why De Drie Wilgen currently supplies apple juice from orchards that are transitioning to organic (info in Dutch). This means that the apple growers are already working completely in compliance with organic principles, but don’t yet have the label, because the soil is still in remediation.

De Drie Wilgen & Oxfam

  • In 2018 Oxfam broadened the scope of its fight for fair trade. Because not even trade conducted close to home is always fair. Since then we have also been committed to fair-trade products ‘from here’. The fair-trade apple juice from De Drie Wilgen, originating exclusively from Belgian orchards, was our first foray (info in Dutch) into this territory.
  • By committing to buy their apple juice, Oxfam gives a boost to Belgian farmers who seek to work in a more eco-friendly way. Being able to count on a stable income gives the apple growers the confidence to make sustainable and eco-friendly investments. This way, they have the courage to make the transition to organic-certified apple cultivation. Apple grower Frederik Defrère: “Our investment paid off quicker thanks to this collaboration. Even before the harvest, we knew for certain that we could sell everything. And for a price that’s higher than that of non-organic juice apples.”
  • Oxfam Fair Trade pays the growers in advance for the apples used in its Belgian fair-trade apple juice.